Challenges for investment banks 2017 (Part 5): Do You Really Want to Work for a Bank?

Beat Monnerat, Senior Managing Director of Financial Services for Asia Pacific; Owen Jelf, Senior Managing Director for Capital Markets; Accenture

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

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Gone are the days where investment banking was the job to win.

In 2013, 12 percent of US graduates said banking and capital markets were top industry choices for work. This has dropped to 7 percent in 2016, according to recent Accenture research. It's not just young professionals who are staying away. Many of the keenest minds in finance are quitting an industry that isn't as profitable (and therefore remunerative) while struggling to rebuild its public reputation, and facing tightening regulatory restrictions. For many, working in smaller, private investment partnerships and other companies in high-tech and fintech industries seem to be a better alternative

How can investment banks win the competition for talent when other companies are apparently offering more interesting, engaging and meaningful work?

One solution could be to ramp up the use of digital tools, analytics and robotics. At a time when some industries are using machines to replace workers, investment banks may use machines to lure them back. In addition to automating routine work processes, machines and artificial intelligence can enhance human capabilities to facilitate decision-making. As machines assume more and more banking tasks, inherently human skills such as innovation, empathy, judgment and complex problem solving will become more valuable - and these are the skills that investment banks should value in staff if they intend on retaining top talent.

By embracing humans and machines as critical "co-workers," banks can play to the strengths of both. That translates into opportunities to create new roles or change existing ones, monitor worker engagement and satisfaction, and improve the overall work experience. Automation could clear the way for new or expanded jobs in areas such as service integration, cloud and relationship management, and risk management.

Additionally, automation could enable banks to become more service-oriented, allowing humans to focus on developing bespoke products that satisfy their clients' individual needs.

Investment banks might even use digital and wearable technologies to quantify employee actions and sentiments-from how happy they are to how well they perform. New apps make it possible for banks to monitor workforce biometrics. Risk managers could use these insights to spot questionable behaviors and preempt impulsive decisions. Accenture research indicates many employees are willing to accept such monitoring providing it is used to provide better feedback on their work.

Within Accenture Operations, intelligent automation and robotics have been used to improve the productivity of more than 17,000 professionals. By reskilling people to take on business-advisory roles and focus on business outcomes, and shifting internal resources to fill more valuable roles, Accenture has created more fulfilling careers. Losing jobs does not mean losing people.

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